Perimenopause is a relatively uncommon term that is not well understood by many. It is basically the time around the end of the female menstrual cycle, the transitioning phase. It marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years when the body undergoes hormonal changes.
It is essential to understand that every woman reacts differently to hormonal variations. This means that the age at which women start perimenopause may differ. Moreover, it is common for women to feel depressed around the end of their reproductive years, called Perimenopausal Depression. Clinical Research Organizations in Illinois and Michigan conduct clinical trials for perimenopausal depression to help women suffering from the condition.
The focus of this blog will be the symptoms of perimenopausal depression, its effect on mental health, and what actually happens during the perimenopausal phase.
What Happens During Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is a transitional phase, during which the hormone estrogen goes up and down unevenly. This results in symptoms like shortening or lengthening of the menstrual cycle, hot flashes, and sleep issues. Once a woman goes without a menstrual period for consecutive 12 months, she is considered period-free, meaning she has entered menopause and the perimenopause phase is over.
However, the perimenopausal phase is very challenging as it takes a toll on one’s mental and physical health affecting dietary habits, mood, sleep pattern, and overall routine to a great extent.
What Are The Symptoms To Look Out For?
Perimenopausal symptoms can vary from person to person, sometimes they are subtle and other times they may be severe enough to interrupt daily routine. A few common symptoms are:
- Irregular menstrual cycle: The flow might be light or heavy, and the length of the cycle may be shorter or longer. If the change is persistent then one might be in early perimenopause.
- Hot flashes and sleep issues: Both are common during this time. Sleep issues are generally due to night sweats and hot flashes.
- Vaginal issues:The drop in estrogen levels leads to loss of lubrication and elasticity. Additionally, the body is more prone to vaginal infections due to dryness.
- Mood changes:This may occur due to hormonal changes, sleep disturbances, and night sweats that lead to irritability and crankiness.
- Changes in sexual function:Sexual desires and arousal may reduce during the perimenopausal phase.
- Increased risk of osteoporosis: Estrogen levels decline, the bones become weak, and the risk of osteoporosis increases.
- Changes in cholesterol levels:Low levels of estrogen may also increase low-density lipoprotein levels which are harmful to the body.
How Do I Know If It Is Perimenopause?
For some women, perimenopause can be very taxing. A woman experiences some physical changes along with her emotional roller coaster, which has an effect on both her physical and mental well-being.
Among the signs of perimenopausal depression are:
- Absence of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Mood swings
- Hours-long bouts of uncontrollable crying
- Hot flushes
Risk Factors For Perimenopausal Depression
Some of the risk factors for perimenopausal depression include:
- Family history
- Poor self-esteem
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Low self-worth
- Social ineptitude
Perimenopause and Depression: What’s the Link?
Having a history of depression increases the chances of having an episode during the menopause phase. There are various theories that offer an explanation as to why depression is common in perimenopausal women.
One theory suggests that there is a window of vulnerability, meaning that some women are more prone and vulnerable to hormone shifts and therefore are at a higher risk of depression.
How To Take Care Of One’s Mental Health During Perimenopause?
and exploring the hrt pros and cons, which can also be effective in alleviating its effects.
It will look like this: Perimenopausal depression can take a toll on one’s mental and physical health. It is essential to keep an eye on the symptoms and seek help if things are no more in your control. There are various treatment options available to treat perimenopausal depression, however, medications should not be used until the condition is diagnosed. Other management techniques include CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), hormone replacement therapy, counseling, and mindfulness, and exploring the hrt pros and cons, which can also be effective in alleviating its effects.
Perimenopausal depression can take a toll on one’s mental and physical health. It is essential to keep an eye on the symptoms and seek help if things are no more in your control. There are various treatment options available to treat perimenopausal depression, however, medications should not be used until the condition is diagnosed. Other management techniques include CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), hormone replacement therapy, counseling, and mindfulness.
Giving the time and space one needs to work through these changes is crucial for many women since menopause can feel like a significant physical and psychological transition. Finding time for themselves can be challenging when they are balancing a busy life, working, and providing for family, friends, or children.
It is important to try your best to always set aside time for yourself. You can take a break from the stresses of life by making time for a cup of tea, reading a book, taking a walk outside, gardening, or browsing the internet. Yoga and mindful breathing techniques are also very beneficial.
Perimenopausal Depression and Anxiety
It is very common for women in their late 40s and 50s to feel socially awkward, not knowing the reason behind it. Perimenopause could be one of the reasons behind women feeling anxious and socially awkward out of the blue, something that they never experienced. Many times women find it difficult to cope with day-to-day tasks which was never a problem before. This can cause a build-up of emotions and frightening thoughts causing symptoms of sadness, social anxiety, loneliness, and loss of interest in things that were once enjoyed.
Some of the tips that can help in reducing anxiety associated with perimenopause are listed below:
- Talk your heart out: Sharing your emotions and feelings with someone can be a bit overwhelming at times but it is by far the best solution to feel better and at peace. Discussing one’s fears and thoughts with someone who understands is a blessing.
Keep social: With increasing age, one’s social circle shrinks, and with conditions like anxiety and depression, one starts to avoid social gatherings. It is essential to have a small circle to meet up with and have fun as it helps to reduce anxiety.
Resolve past conflicts: It’s possible to forgive, heal, and have compassion during menopause. Try your best to let go, forgive, and move on, regardless of whether you require expert assistance or are able to resolve these concerns on your own. Be compassionate with yourself first. Life is too short to harbor resentment or put up with unfair treatment from others. By doing so, you are only harming yourself and nothing else. Life becomes easier when you resolve your inner conflicts.
Journal: Writing down your feelings when you do not feel like sharing them with someone, is the best way to get those negative build-up of emotions off your chest. It helps clear one’s mind and start from scratch every time one scribble or write down their feelings. Journaling also aids in figuring out the pattern and tracking the symptoms, which may help in formulating a better routine or finding ways to overcome it.
Mood swings, unhappy or irritable feelings, and moodiness are frequent during perimenopause. Nonetheless, it can be difficult to tell the difference between clinical depression and the ups and downs caused by fluctuating hormone levels. A possible source of pressure or anxiety can be reduced by being open and honest about how you’re feeling. Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any concerns about your physical or mental health so that it can be managed timely. Perimenopausal depression clinical trials may assist in understanding the condition better and may provide ways to manage it.